Why You Should Sign Up for a Half Marathon

Let’s be honest. You ate too much high octane food during the holidays. The weather outside was bitter cold, so you ditched your exercise program. You haven’t darkened the door of the gym since the week after Thanksgiving. And the scale doesn’t lie: you’ve gained a few pounds.

Close-up of People Running - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/millsrymer, Image #1957834

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/millsrymer

This is the conversation I had with myself in the mirror on New Year’s day.

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It’s time to start making good on my New Year’s resolution and start training for the Country Music Half Marathon is scheduled for April 24, 2010. If you have had a similar conversation with yourself, maybe you should join me. I’d love to have you come along.

Here’s why I think you should sign up, too:

  1. You will lose weight. I know that’s on many people’s mind during this week. It is better and more healthy than a crash diet. We have had people in our company lose as much as 40–50 pounds just training for the half marathon.
  2. You will get in the best shape of your life. Even if you are not exercising right now, you still have plenty of time to get in shape before April 24. You begin by walking. Some people chose to walk the race itself. Regardless, you will be surprised at how far you can come in just four months.
  3. You will feel more energetic and productive at work. This is a benefit I didn’t expect when I first started. I thought regular exercise—especially training for a half marathon—would sap my energy. It had exactly the opposite effect. I am never more focused and energetic than when I am in the middle of training.
  4. You will have a positive way of dealing with the stress in your life. The stress of modern life takes its toll. The economic realities of the past two years haven’t helped. Training for a half marathon will give you a positive outlet for your stress. You will even sleep better. Guaranteed.
  5. You will have an incredible sense of accomplishment when you finish. There’s nothing like crossing the finish line after running 13.1 miles, especially if you have never done it. The feeling is exhilarating. You will feel rightly proud of yourself.
  6. You will gain the confidence to take on other challenges. This is one of the main reasons I love to run. It gives me the opportunity to tackle my biggest challenge—me. If I can overcome the mental obstacles I encounter on the way to the race, I can put those skills to use in other endeavors.
  7. You will provide an example for others. True leadership begins with self-leadership. When you lead yourself, you inspire others to want to follow. Maybe it’s a spouse, or a friend, or one of your children. They need to exercise, but they don’t have an example to follow. You can be that example.
  8. You can help raise money for a worthy cause. I am running on behalf of New Hope Academy. This is an incredible school in my neck of the woods that provides high-quality Christian education to underprivileged children. This takes running to a whole new level. It’s no longer just about me, but about something significant that makes a difference.

Convinced yet? If you want to run, I suggest you start with the Jeff Galloway method. It’s specifically designed for beginners. You can find his various training schedules here. It basically involves a program of walking and running. It allows you to incrementally improve over time without killing yourself.

Question: What other good reasons are there to sign up for the half marathon?
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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PaulSteinbrueck PaulSteinbrueck

    Two years ago I ran my first (and only) marathon. It was a difficult but worthwhile experience. I used The Non-Runners Marathon Trainer Book (http://bit.ly/8EL2M) but I've heard great things about the Galloway method. It was also a great learning experience. One of the things I enjoyed most was blogging about the things I learned during training. I hope you'll post regular updates about your training as well.

    I wish you all the best. Hope it's a great experience for you and you raise a lot of money.
    My recent post How to Create SMART Resolutions for Your Website in 2010

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Galloway is great. The system was created for people who didn't think they could run. It's very practical and do-able.

  • Juan

    Hi Mike
    Great Post I run about 3 miles every other day; however I do want to run more to drop some pounds.

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/success2you John Richardson

    Thanks for the motivation, Mike.
    I think a half marathon might be the right goal for me after reading Galloway's literature. In our weekly Toastmaster's club we have all been challenged to do a 10k in April by one of our members. At 6.2 miles it seemed like a pretty intimidating goal for a non-runner, but after reading Galloway's system it actually sounds like the training is pretty straight forward.
    A half marathon is two 10k's back to back.
    I have had great results with the Body for Life program of weight training and aerobic exercise, but I have never had much endurance for running long distances. Galloway's program seems like a good solution to build up endurance without killing yourself. And it is something that I can do with my wife, who has started a walking program.
    Maybe a good goal would be a new Apple tablet if I can finish the race… Hmmm
    My recent post Having A Buffer

    • Whall2

      To plagiarize a well known athletic apparel company, just do it. I ran my first half two years ago and, in retrospect, I am surprised at how easy it was. If you stick to a training plan and pace yourself for the race you should easily be able to do a half. One of the lessons that I learned along the way is that I have to eat while I am running long. I am a large guy (6'4", 245 lbs.) and burn over 1000 calories per hour when I go long. If your are running a half and see some guy choking down Cliff bars with Accelerade (my two favorites) at around mile 6, it just might be me.

      Good luck!

  • http://www.beesymama.blogspot.com/ Juliet

    I agree with all the reasons you listed for running a half marathon. In June 2008, I ran my first half marathon in Estes Park, CO. I trained for about 5 months for the running event and used a training program from Marathoning for Mortals. For me, I learned so much about myself during the training and race. To run a long distance race requires discipline and focus. Each day you have to show up and follow through on your training program. Prior to training for this race, I struggled with maintaining a consistent exercise routine. Having a training schedule and a goal helped me stay focused over the five month training period (and as a bonus, I lost about 20 lbs.). Additionally, I trained with friends from my MOPS group. Training with others not only provides accountability, but it also makes training much more enjoyable. It was a great way to fellowship with others, and I grew closer in my relationships with some of the ladies in the group. I just started training again for a race in May.

    I wish you all the best in your training and race! I look forward to hearing more about your progress. :)
    My recent post BEEtween the Pages: NKJV Greatest Stories of the Bible

  • http://twitter.com/karenswim @karenswim

    The half is my favorite distance. I still love marathons and have not ruled an ultra out either but oh the half. It's far enough that you feel like a conqueror but short enough that you can still walk up the stairs the next day. Jeff Galloway's method helped me tremendously when I first started running.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/janetober janetober

    Great article … I'm going to pass it on to the running club I lead with a friend.

    As for good reasons to run a half marathon … BECAUSE I CAN!
    There's many that can't due to health issues – real health issues, like cerebral palsy, paralysis, etc. If I (you) can walk, my (your) body can get stronger (with proper training!) and walk and/or run a half.

    Most of us in our running club (called Running … Because I Can) are running and/or walking in marathon relay teams at the Garden Spot Village Marathon on April 10th, in New Holland, PA. I'm doing a 6-mile leg and would love to come to Nashville 2 weeks later to do the half. I have to see how it fits into the rest of my world.

    Happy Running!
    My recent post Breakfast of a Champion

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I am always amazed at how many people run who are handicapped or extremely old. My first year, I was passed by a guy with a t-shirt that said, “80 years old and still runnning”!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/chrishuff chrishuff

    Thanks for the marathon reminder. Now I've got something new to do this year! Before I lagged in the cardio department at the end of last year, I was down to a 12 minute mile. I have always been more of a sprinter than a long-distance runner. This is a good year to push myself for a mini marathon. Push myself – and release a lot of stress!
    My recent post The Five Audio Mistakes I Made in 2009

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SynapticLight Phillip Gibb

    oki doki – have fun ….
    I would love to start running again :)
    Done my fair share of Half Marathons – hmmm, lots of work.

    My recent post Get your Christian Film

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/chrisrivers5 chrisrivers5

    Michael, I am inquisitive, what is your PR?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      My personal record was 2:29—two years ago.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/chrisrivers5 chrisrivers5

        so what are you shooting for on this one? Its all about having fun but you gotta try and beat the PR ;)

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

          I'd like to do 2:15.

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  • http://mondokblog.blogspot.com bryonm

    Great post, Michael. I run the Disney in Orlando next week. I run one marathon a year using Hal Higdon's training schedule (http://www.halhigdon.com/marathon/inter2.html). Even if I put on a few pounds, I know I'm going to start the training (usually in Florida's hottest weather).

    I ran my first half about ten years ago when I was about 34. This year I'll run my fifth marathon.

    By the way, I loved "Born To Run." Keep up the good work…
    My recent post Grandma Pat Comes Home

  • http://twitter.com/nmabry @nmabry

    I ran my first half and full marathons in 2009. I completed the marathon in my Vibrams, albeit slower than I'd hoped. I'm planning my next half in May (http://flyingpigmarathon.com). I've got one of Galloway's books that helped me tremendously in training, and I recommend him to runners at every level.

    My one disagreement with your post was that I found that I did not lose weight. In fact, I might have gained a few lbs. I'm not talking about muscle mass either. Truth is, training made me hungry, and I justified eating because I was training. I've learned from this and intend to be more careful with my diet this year.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I can defintely see how that could happen—though I don't know anyone who has had that experience. I have one friend who says he runs, so he can eat what he wants!

  • Jason E

    So tell us, are you training with your Vibram 5's or did you go back to regular running shoes?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I am training with my Vibrams. Actually, I am alternating. I train in both my running shoes and my Vibrams. I haven't decided yet what I will wear on race day. For now, I am keeping my options open.

  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com Women Living Well

    You are right and convincing!!! I just ran my first two races last year (a 5K and a 2 mile run) so I am not to a half marathon YET…but your article is convincing. I'm not sure if in my season of life (2 little ones I homeschool) I can carve out the time to train for a half marathon – but you've convinced me to do another 5K!

    It certainly does feel good to complete a race and there are so many spiritual analogies to running! Though my blog is a spiritual blog I found that women are disconnecting their spiritual life from their physical life. If women are exhausted, out of shape and out of energy it is going to be hard to obey God's word and take care of our homes, our children, serve at church and be pleasant while doing it! Taking care of ourselves physically does affect us spiritually and emotionally!

    I am convinced! Thanks!

    My recent post Tasty Tuesday: Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/miller_schloss Becky Miller

      I was able to train for my first half marathon with a preschooler and a baby. My husband helped a lot with watching the kids while I did my long runs.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      It really doesn't take that much time, other than your long run on Saturday mornings. If you can manage that, you could probably pull it off.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/quinnschilling quinnschilling

    We just watched Run, Fat Boy Run the other night. I think God may be trying to tell us something:o Good post!
    My recent post Free Fun. Lowe’s Build & Grow Clinics

  • http://twitter.com/seanpalmer @seanpalmer

    Thanks for this Michael. I just began training for 5K and need all the encouragement I can get.

  • Whall2

    I agree with all of the reasons in the post, but perhaps the most easily overlooked reason is that it is a tremendous amount of fun. Sure, putting in the training miles can be challenging at times, but the race will be unlike anything else that you have experienced. You will see teams running for the cause they are supporting, there will be spectators everywhere cheering you on, and, if you run one of the Rock 'n Roll series races, there will be music at every turn. It's a carnival like atmosphere that you can't help but enjoy.

    I would also recommend looking at the F.I.R.S.T. training programs found at http://www.furman.edu/first/fmtp.htm. Lastly, read up on the POSE running method or the Chi Running approach and learn how to land on the front of your foot with a very high turn over rate. These lessons will save you from all of the knee, foot, and joint pain I experienced as a newby runner in my early 40's.

    Happy running!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I should have mentioned “fun” as a reason. It is definitely fun. Even the training is fun, particularly if you run with a group.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/miller_schloss Becky Miller

    I'm glad Jason asked. I had the same question. Would you do a follow-up post about how you've liked running in your Vibrams now that you've been doing it longer? (Or did you write one and I missed it?) I've been debating getting Vibrams myself.

    • http://twitter.com/nmabry @nmabry

      I love my VFFs. I did my first marathon in them this year. However, I can't be all positive. I did my training on a local bike path with even blacktop pavement. My longest training run was 20 miles, but I finished with steam to go. As for race day, the surfaces were an uneven mix of blacktop, cobblestone, and concrete. By the end, my feet hurt real bad. Hindsight, I should have mixed things up in my training and should have trained more. Recovery, though, was very easy.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/miller_schloss Becky Miller

    I ran my first half marathon in October, mostly inspired by your posts, Michael. I ran in Newport, RI, under some of the worst race conditions they've ever seen – cold wind, flooded streets, and constant rain as we ran along the ocean. Many of the runners ended up in the medical tent with hypothermia, including me. It was horrible and awesome at the same time – horrible because it was painful and scary when my body shut down but awesome because I finished the race anyway. I was really proud of myself for setting a goal and reaching it, and that is one of the best reasons for running a half marathon. It's a big goal, but it's a doable goal for many people, and it feels amazing to reach it.

    I'm training for my second half marathon in Providence, RI, in May. I want to run at a Boston qualifying pace. My little brother runs competitively, and he's helping me train.

    I would love to run the Country Music Half someday – you and Lindsey have made it sound like so much fun!

    I would like to better my half marathon time and eventually run a full marathon. I've even entertained thoughts of an ultra at some point…

  • http://twitter.com/Jenni_Burke @Jenni_Burke

    I always look forward to your running related posts, Mike! All these reasons for doing a half are true, and here's one more: It's a great stepping stone to preparing for a Full Marathon! Many people dream of completing the full 26.2 some day and successfully training for 13.1 is a good confidence builder. After running a half, the full will seem less intimidating. And your body and mind will become gradually accustomed to the longer distances. I spent several year running half-marathons, 5ks and 10ks before I really wanted to run a full marathon, and I was grateful for that foundation.____One of my new years resolutions/goals is to set a new PR in the half-marathon in 2010! ____Happy running/walking/jogging, everyone!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jonsmith Jon Smith

    Great post! I signed up for the Country Music Half Marathon a couple of weeks ago. It's my first half marathon. You listed a few reasons I hadn't thought about as motivation. Specifically, being more energetic and productive at work. I've only been training for 2 weeks, and I ALREADY feel those effects. It's welcome and surprising.

    Maybe I'll see you on the 24th of April!

  • http://christinakatz.com Christina Katz

    Okay, this is freaky. This is the second serendipitous blog post I've read today that directly responds to something that has been on my mind in the last 24 hours. I AM thinking about a half-marathon. I'm actually thinking about walking it rather than running it. I'm not much of a runny. But your post is a great promotion for having a not-too-big goal for motivation. Thanks so much!
    My recent post Welcome, Novelist Therese Walsh, Here To Answer Your Questions

  • Homemaker, MD

    I did a half marathon in med school and it was a great chance to pray and memorize scripture while I trained and ran. I was not much of a runner, so all my running friends were much faster than I and thus there was no one at my level who was interested in training at my super-beginner level. I started training with two goals: 1) memorize all of Romans chapter 8 by the time I ran it. and 2) Not to walk, even if my running speed was super super slow, to do the whole thing running.

    It was a great experience but I think I overtrained and it took several months before my knees recovered. I'd say that you need to be sure to talk to your doctor first. Be cautious when participating in high-impact sports like running, especially if you are overweight, since all that extra weight hitting your knee joints with each foot-fall can do some major damage over time…possibly necessitating future knee replacements!
    My recent post A look at Genesis One as the New Year Starts

  • http://www.jungleoflife.com/ Lance

    While I haven't competed in a half or full marathon, I have done several 5K races, and a few sprint triathlons. All great experiences, and all helped me to get in the best shape of my life. So, definitely, running is a great way to be the healthy we want. And maybe…just maybe…I'll start working at something a bit longer than a 5K!
    My recent post And The Word Is (2010)…

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    I would just add that if you are having knee problems, you really need to take a hard look at your stride and basic running mechanics. If you land on your heel, it is going to cause problems. This is one huge advantage of running barefoot or in the Vibrams, because you simply can't land on your heel. You get the immediate negative impact and adjust your stride accordingly.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/vinthomas Vin Thomas

    Thanks for the link to the Jeff Galloway method. I think I will have to check that out.
    My recent post New Site Launched: 7Fourteen.org

  • Lauren Sylvan

    Great post, Mike, But there's a little editor in my brain that never shuts up. On number 4, you said "This is a benefit I didn’t experience when I first started." But the context suggests that the word you meant to use was not 'experience' but 'expect'.
    And if I'm right, once you fix it, you can delete this comment.
    I appreciate all the insights you share.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for catching that. You are absolutely correct.

  • http://www.cherylblemine.wordpress.com Cheryl B. Lemine

    Mr. Hyatt:
    I'm not ready to tackle a half-marathon but in Jacksonville, FL we have a wonderful 15k called the River Run. I'm not ready to tackle THAT either but the 5K fun run/walk registration fee is in my budget for this week and I"ll be making good on it. Heck, since I'm registering early, I'll even be able to have my first name on my "race" number….I'd say it's a step in the right direction…ok….bad pun. Hopefully those on the sidelines won't heckle me by name!;)
    My recent post FUN: Annual Goals a.k.a. Resolutions

  • http://twitter.com/RachelWojo @RachelWojo

    To answer your question, I blogged my personal half marathon reasons over the weekend.
    Aren't the smilies new? Don't remember them on your old blog site.
    My recent post Power Food for Thought

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  • http://blogdeeper.blogspot.com/ Akshay

    I stay in India and there will be a marathon coming up in Mumbai…and i my going to take part in half marathon or at least in dream run..

  • Lisa

    How about just a great time to get together with a group of friends! I'm running my first half in Chicago with about 20 other women! We're shopping then running… in that order!

  • http://www.tarajacksononline.com Tara Jackson

    Thanks for a great post! A friend passed this on to me b/c I signed up for this year's Country Music 1/2 Marathon which I will be walking to raise $10,000 for http://www.bridgeministry.org! I needed a goal & something that would kick my tail into gear, and I'm so glad that I've made this a goal. (I'm nervous, scared, and excited all at the same time!)

  • Ricardo Bueno

    Michael: first off, thanks for the link to the Jeff Galloway method. This can be useful to me as I prep for my first marathon.

    Personally, I'm running the marathon for the sense of accomplishment that it brings and well, running just feels good. I find that I do some of my best thinking when I'm running. I guess it's my form of meditation (sounds crazy to some). It also reduces stress for me which is great. When I'm on my regular schedule I feel more energized throughout the day and I find that I consume less caffeine which is also great.

    Now I've never run a marathon before so doing the LA Marathon in March is going to be a challenge. Nevertheless, I'm really looking forward to it!
    My recent post @dmscott Rants on the ROI of marketing on the web…

  • Joel Q

    My wife and I are going to try it this year.
    We're looking for a treadmill right now.
    Then, if we survive, try for the Pikes Peak Ascent in 2011.

    In regard to #8. You can raise money for the American Cancer Society. Check out acsDetermiNation.org

  • tiffanyc

    I think I'm going to do this! I took your advice, bought some new shoes, and headed to the health club to begin my training…so far in secret. After 2 days I'm experiencing knee pain but discovered an entry you wrote on this earlier. I now have Chi Running requested from the library.

    Also, I appreciate your candor when it comes to running. I thought I was too old to start, but you being 50 when you started motivates me at 35.

    Thank you so much for your wonderful blog filled with resources, insights, and humor.

    Perhaps I will go public with my new goal soon. (I need to make sure I can figure out how to reduce this knee pain first.) Until then, happy trails!

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  • http://www.keithferrazzi.com Sara Grace

    Amen!! I will definitely be doing a half-marathon this year. I've got another goal though…. see mythousandmileyear.com.

    Funnily enough, I came to your site because I'm looking for a post on email templates to say "no" gracefully, but the link was broken. I'm the managing editor at kf.com and wanted to include it in my link roundup this week.

    But nice to find a post here on running, my other favorite thing!
    My recent post First Ever Product for Sale!

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff

    Do you post this every year at this time? I think I might have to do the half marathon this year…
    My recent post The Definition of Marketing

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I post a version of it, because this is the optimal time to begin training for the Country Music Half Marathon. This year it will be held on April 24.

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  • http://www.erunningforbeginners.com Carlos Taipina

    Half Marathon it's a good goal! I've started running a few months ago and had the best help with some mp3 running workouts. Was a good help to keep running and this workouts program gave me an extra motivation. For those who need a good and easy start go to:http://www.erunningforbeginners.com .

  • http://www.trail-running-blog.com/ SDrunner

    I think too many people attempt to do a full marathon and don't realize how difficult it is. A half is more reasonable and attainable and would definitely recommend it for everyone!

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    I’m hoping to run the Music City Marathon this year. I trained for it last year, but hurt myself towards the end of training. Hoping to make it out this year.

    • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

      Okay, I bought the shoes. I’m doing it for sure this year. Hope to see you!

  • http://twitter.com/2020VisionBook Joshua Hood

    I’m totally with you, Mike! I’m pumped up about running! Like right now, for instance…I’m putting my jogging shoes on and running down to the donut store…

    Joshua Hood

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  • http://praxis2.net/ Praxis 2 flashcards

    A lot of half marathon running schedules start from 5k so you’d be overdoing it if you were to start one of these schedules. If you can’t run 5k 

  • http://praxis2.net/ Praxis 2 flashcards

    A lot of half marathon running schedules start from 5k so you’d be overdoing it if you were to start one of these schedules. If you can’t run 5k